Sometimes you have to make hard decisions for yourself. Your decisions may affect how people perceive you, causing them to resist what you’re doing.
Unfortunately, those that don’t support the decisions we make for ourselves are often stuck in how it’s going to affect them instead of benefit you.
In this episode, I read a message from a transgender man who experienced many challenges growing up and thinks he’s finally over the toughest parts. I give him my thoughts and also talk about how you can make life’s bigger decisions as well.
(The following podcast transcript has been modified for easier readability and to benefit the Deaf and hard of hearing)
The letter says, “Hi, Paul. I’m here to say a deep, heartfelt thank you. I discovered your show recently and I’m so grateful I did. I know you get a lot of emails so please don’t feel pressure to respond or put this on the air.”
Okay, I won’t feel any pressure. I’m putting it on the air anyway!
“If you think it will help people feel free” (yes, that’s why I’m reading it now). He goes on to say “I have ADHD, and MDD and GAD and PTSD-C, and previously PMDD, cured by a hysterectomy in April.”
Wow, I didn’t look up some of those and I know some of those, and I’m sure some people in the audience can relate to that. That’s only one point of the email so I’m going to continue reading it here.
“I’m also a transgender man.”
For anyone who doesn’t know what that is, it’s a man who was assigned female at birth. Some people who are female at birth, if they identify as a man, they may go through a hormonal treatment or a surgical transition, so that they can feel in alignment with their identity.
He continues, “I also have gender dysphoria.” For those who don’t know that, that’s the distress a person feels due to a mismatch between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth (thank you Wikipedia for that one. I wanted to get that one right. Not that I didn’t know but I wanted to make sure I read that properly).
He said “I’ve had lots of trauma more than I realized. And no, this is not a sob story. This is a story of regaining power and a sense, however terrifying of responsibility and of forgiving myself a break.”
I love that he said that because obviously he’s been listening to my show. That’s how I talk about forgiveness. It’s forgiving yourself a break for who you were, how you thought, how you showed up at the time, and for dealing with what you’re still upset about or you have some feelings about. There’s more to it but certainly, check out my articles and episodes on forgiveness for more on that and how I view forgiveness.
I am so glad you said that because you can release a lot of forgiveness if you are able to give yourself a break, or like he (and I) said, forgive yourself a break, because when we have trouble getting over something, and we think we need to forgive someone else so we can move on, there’s often a little bit of self-blame as well. Like “I should have done better, I should have done something differently.”
If we can get past the things that we “should” have done or “could” have done, and forgive ourselves or break during that time, then we can get past it without having to forgive anyone else. If you want. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. I don’t believe you have to forgive other people. That’s another topic for another show, but check out the link above to view or listen to my other resources on forgiveness if you’re interested in that.
He continues, “Medication restored my ability to think clearly. A hysterectomy saved me from the monthly depressive lows lasting weeks. I thought these things would heal me, but it only started there. ADHD medication started giving me all day anxiety attacks which threatened to balloon into panic. I didn’t know why until I realized, in big part thanks to you, if I can think clearly, I can be in the moment. If I can be in the moment, I can begin to feel again. If I can feel I can ask myself, why? If I ask myself why, I have to face my past. If I face my past – those old, dysfunctional beliefs and behaviors – I see that my past turned me into an addict.”
I certainly wasn’t the first person to come up with thinking in the present moment, and I won’t be the las but that’s where he started with this. He said, “If I can think clearly I can be in the moment.” Great, so you now you connect with the present moment.
He did go into what appears to be the drill-down technique. This is where you just keep asking yourself questions and drilling into the problem, more and more. Whatever challenge you’re facing, you drill into that. I talk about that in other episodes.
His drill down was, “If I can be in the moment, I can begin to feel. If I feel I can ask myself why. If I ask myself why I have to face my past…” So he was able to logically, from what it looks like, deduce where the anxiety comes from, or where the upset, or the emotional triggers come from.
I’m not saying that he found everything. Maybe there’s more in there, maybe there’s not, but he certainly understood how he became an addict, at least, to this extent. He said “Nicotine and sometimes alcohol, I did those things, but thankfully they made me more depressed and anxious the next day so I was able to quit and I also had an addiction to distractions: Games and quick, sugary dopamine hits, and my phone, and anything to avoid facing my fears, confusion, mistakes, overwhelm, and responsibilities.”
So he’s realized that his addictions were there to replace dealing with his emotions. I think he says that in a moment. “I’ve spent 25 years burning in psychological hell, making unconscious mistakes out of a drive to cope, while carrying multiple undiagnosed disorders, and 10,000 pounds of pain and low self-esteem. I’m here again, awake, sober, anxious as hell, still confused, terrified of the knowledge that I need medication to be clear and rational, but seeing that means I really am not completely responsible for everything I ever did wrong.”
“I’m not a bad person. I have learned and grown since then. Guilt is temporary and sometimes not even reasonable. I can trust myself now to stay present and make better decisions so long as I take my medication and I face my anxiety instead of running from it and, thanks to you, honor myself to stop bottling up until I disintegrate. Past abuse and the choices I made as a result of that, and mental illness made me into a ghost.”
“I couldn’t connect with anyone, and no one could connect with me. Somehow I find myself in a beautiful house with a job, not a great job, but a job, and a beautiful daughter and husband, and a chance to move forward despite the mess behind me. I’m going to use my fear of ‘losing it’ to make me appreciate it while it’s here. And I’m going to work on accepting everything that happens, no matter how painful without falling back into addictions and numbness. Thank you.”
That was an amazing message. There’s still stuff that he’s dealing with, of course, but this sounds like he took a massive step forward. Or maybe he sees it as a small step forward but either way, for him to write this, knowing that he’s still suffering in some ways, it shows that he has made some progress to be able to share this because it sounds like he was in a much worse position than he was.
I want to thank the person who wrote this. It takes a lot of energy to go through life with everything that you’ve experienced. Like you said, all these undiagnosed disorders and pain and low self-esteem… you’ve had a lot to deal with. And I am so grateful that you shared this with me. Thank you so much.
And thank you for your words about me, but you are the one who’s done all this work. I gave ave you suggestions. I gave you, maybe a direction, but you did the work. You did all the tough stuff and I just sit behind a microphone sharing this stuff with you and hopefully, people like you, and anyone listening, will be able to take something from what I share on the air and improve their life in some way. What you’re telling me sounds like a huge improvement to me.
At the beginning of the episode, I did say that there was a deeper meaning or deeper thing I wanted to talk about here that wasn’t necessarily about all these things that he’s dealing with, which there are many subjects here we could talk about (I will talk about a couple of them).
I really wanted to dive into this letter regarding the courage it takes and the mental strength it takes to not only take a step forward, and get some forward momentum (even if it’s baby step) and to go in the direction that you need to go for you, toward healing, but to not use your vices or your habits or your addictions to repress what needs to be addressed instead.
Because I guarantee you, just like anyone else in the world, he doesn’t want to feel anxiety. Nobody wants to feel anxiety. And when you’re dealing with anxiety, what do you want to do? You either want to release it, or push it back down. How many people will actually say, “Whoa, I’m having anxiety. Let’s explore that.”?
That’s telling anxiety to come up so we can address it. Of course, while we’re addressing it, we’re feeling it. Nobody wants to feel it. But look at this guy. This guy has been through so much and he’s still going through. He’s still trying to probably figure things out. But he is addressing it. He knows he’s suffering, so he’s going to deal with his emotional state. He’s going to bring it up. He’s going to think about. He’s going to talk to it. He’s going to talk through it. He’s going to ask himself questions, he’s going to deal with it.
This is not something that we can just push back down, because then we keep it. When we keep it inside, anxiety for example, it festers. And it stays. And sometimes it even amplifies. So the next time it comes up, it feels even worse. And sometimes it’s just that Generalized Anxiety where you feel it, it’s the same all the time, it never goes away.
That’s what it sounds like he’s dealing with but he brings it up to address. I highly recommend you listen to my episodes on anxiety because if you haven’t, I have some unorthodox ways that I’ve dealt with anxiety and I recommend that others deal with anxiety as well if they haven’t been able to resolve it. Even if you have dealt with your anxiety, some methods in those episodes might be helpful to you if it ever comes up. I use them myself.
Coming back to the courage it takes to get through these kinds of challenges in life… It’s so hard. I can’t imagine. This planet is still in its infancy of accepting people’s identity and how they self identify and how they feel. For him to be able to say that he’s a transgender man, to anyone, like if somebody said that 20 years ago, that probably wouldn’t be as accepted or seen as “normal.”
I don’t know when we started actually becoming more accepting of this and seeing it as something that people experience and deal with and feel inside of them. But I was grateful when people became more accepting, and more understanding that we all feel different. We all identify differently. Just because we’re born with certain parts, we may not feel like a typical person who has those parts. So I like seeing the planet kind of transition themselves.
We can become a “trans planet”. Don’t take that the wrong way. I’m saying, we transition our thoughts. We transform our acceptance. We become more open-minded. We get into a space of “Yhat person doesn’t think like me, and that’s okay.”
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone just said, “That person doesn’t think like me. That person doesn’t feel like me. That person doesn’t look like me. And that person does things that are different for me. That’s okay. That’s fine. Because nobody has to be me. Nobody has to be like me. Nobody has to think like me. They don’t.”
Sure, there may be some exceptions, like it would be great if everyone treated a red light as a Stop. But sometimes they don’t. I’m not saying that’s okay, I’m saying, in general, when it comes to people’s personal decisions and personal life, we can just look at them and not be judgmental.
I’m not saying that you aren’t this way. I think the listeners of this audience are pretty darn accepting, pretty darn open-minded, or at least, would like to be more open-minded, and more understanding, or learn more about how to improve themselves and become a better version of themselves.
If you think you don’t personally know someone that can’t identify as the gender they were born as, you may be surprised to find out that you actually do. It’s a lot more common than most people think. I’ve met several people in my life that have chosen to identify as a different gender. I know someone personally in my own family that chooses to identify as a different gender, and his parents support him. I love them! I think they are amazing. They offered no pushback, and no resistance.
So those who can’t identify as the gender they were born as is a very common thing and yes, you might know someone who is dealing with this. I think it’s important just to understand that, yup, we’re all different.
In the past, I’ve had this thought, where if you were born with male parts, or you were born with female parts, why don’t you feel male? Or why don’t you feel female?
Why wouldn’t somebody feel like the person who has the parts they were born with? In other words, why wouldn’t a person born with a penis feel like a man? Why wouldn’t a person born with a vagina feel like a woman?
I’m sure there are studies on this but my own theory, which really doesn’t make much sense but I’m gonna say it anyway, is that we are born with operating systems. If you’re familiar with computers, a computer is nothing until you have an operating system. When you put the operating system like Windows, or Mac, what is it Mac OS? Something like that (I’m a Windows guy), or Android is an operating system, iOS on the iPhone, that’s an operating system.
If you were to take out the operating systems of a computer or a phone, it would just be a piece of hardware. It wouldn’t know what to do. You couldn’t make a call with it because the screen couldn’t come on because how is the screen going to come on if it doesn’t have a system that tells it how to operate?
I see human beings like that. We’re born with an operating system. It’s our brain. It’s our nervous system. It’s how we’re designed. It’s our instincts. It’s everything. Our cells know what to do. Our cells know how to heal when we get a cut.
What I think happens is that the majority of us might be born with a particular operating system. I was born with male parts, and the male operating system was installed. I don’t know what that means. I don’t know how that works. Maybe it’s genetic. But I feel like a man. There’s no gender dysphoria, like this person mentioned, where I’m distressed because I feel like there’s a mismatch between how I look and who I am, with how I feel. Or who I feel like I should be.
So that operating system matches, it’s in alignment with me. But what if somebody is born with a different operating system? What if somebody who has female parts is born with the male operating system?
I hope this isn’t offensive to anyone because this is sort of maybe more metaphorical than anything and it helped me understand the concept behind how someone couldn’t identify. Because I had trouble with it. I had trouble trying to figure out why wouldn’t somebody feel like a man? That doesn’t make any sense to me. Like 15 years ago, I was struggling with this trying to figure this out.
If anyone’s listening is struggling with the same dilemma asking themselves, “Why wouldn’t somebody feel like a man? They got the parts!” Or “Why wouldn’t somebody feel like a woman?”
I think there’s an operating system. When we’re born, we have this operating system and some operating systems work differently and some people maybe didn’t get the “right” operating system. I’m not saying that anyone in particular got the wrong one? Hey, maybe I got the wrong operating system!
I’m not saying that there’s a right one or a wrong one. I’m saying that I think that these operating systems that we’re installed with don’t always match what we feel like and what we have for a body, and for our shape, for our voice, for the way we look, who we attract… They don’t match.
This is kind of metaphorical, but I think there’s some truth to it. It just makes sense to me that somebody is born with the same parts I am, but they don’t feel like a man so they must have a different operating system. I like to use that thought.
If I meet someone who says, “You know, I don’t feel like a man, I don’t feel like a woman, I am gender-neutral.’ There are people like that, too. They have an operating system that maybe doesn’t lean them one way or the other. These operating systems that we are walking around with help us identify with ourselves, with others. We can even look at the operating system that defines our sexual orientation.
My operating system says “I’m a man and I’m heterosexual.” Okay, great. For me, it might be a little easier to deal with the world because the world’s already used to that. For somebody else, it may not be easy for them. Especially if the world hasn’t come to an acceptance of every type of person, you know all the letters: LGBTQI… something like that. When some people are presented with that, it doesn’t make any sense to them.
So A> I’m trying to help myself so that it makes sense to me. And B> I want it to make some sense to those experiencing gender dysphoria. And C> I want it to make some sense to everyone else, just in case there was a mystery that needed solving in their mind.
I’m not here to talk about gender dysphoria. I’m not here to talk about any of that stuff. I just wanted to mention that because that’s the thought process I had when I first started thinking about transgender and people either confused about their gender or knowing who they are but not being in the body that “says who they are” and if it’s ever been a problem for you, maybe you’re listening and you are dealing with this, I think personally it can be helpful if you have any confusion about how to identify, just to say to yourself, “I have this operating system. That’s how it is.”
It’s not just about sexual orientation or gender identity, it can be a number of things. You can have a physiological operating system that causes you to favor classical music. You can have an operating system that helps you make decisions easy. You can have all kinds of things that go on in your operating system. It’s probably just genetic. It’s probably in our DNA, it gets passed down, in some way, shape, or form. The majority of people probably end up with a certain type of operating system and some other people don’t. They end up with something else.
I like to think in those terms, and who knows? I might be completely offending people right now. I don’t mean to so I want to bring up the point that I wanted to make regarding this email, which is the courage and the mental strength it takes to be able to take the steps that you need to take, even when you’re facing the hardest challenges in life.
For one, somebody who sends an email like this, a lot of people are going to hear this and think, “Wow, I thought I had it bad. I thought I had a lot going on in my life.” The second part of this is, when you hear this, you can say “If this guy went through all of this, I can make it through any challenges I have too! Because this guy went through a lot and he’s still going through it, but he’s at a point where he says, “I’m going to use my fear of losing it to make me appreciate it while it’s here.”
That’s actually kind of a vague sentence. Appreciate what? Appreciate your job and your house and your daughter and your husband? I think that’s what he meant. But I’m going to transform that into a double meaning.
We can read it as “I’m going to use my fear of losing it to make me appreciate all the things I have while I’m here.”
Or, we can read it like this: “I’m going to use my fear of losing it to make me appreciate the fear while it’s here.”
Why would I do that? Why would I want to appreciate the fear? Because in this email, he’s appreciating the fear. He may not like it. And maybe “appreciate” is the wrong word, but I like to use the word “appreciate” in this context, because what he’s saying is “I’m allowing the anxiety to come up, I’m dealing with it. I’m appreciating the fact that I can acknowledge the anxiety. I’m appreciating the fact that I can acknowledge the fear. Because if I don’t appreciate it, I’m going to stuff back down Or I’m going to turn it into something destructive like addiction. So I might as well appreciate it.”
You might say, “But I don’t like the anxiety. I don’t like the fear. I don’t want to deal with this.”
When you come to an acceptance of what’s going on inside of you, that is a massive first step. For you to be able to deal with what’s going on inside of you. “You know what? I have fear. You know what? I have anxiety. I have all these things so I’m going to accept that I have them.”
Then you might think, “What if they’re there forever? That means not only do I have it but now I’m feeling it because I’m dealing with it!”
If that’s the case, then you haven’t dealt with it yet. If you are not letting it come up, to experience it, to appreciate it, again probably a poor choice of words but if you’ve been hating it, maybe appreciating it is a good step forward. Maybe appreciating the anxiety and appreciating the fear is a great step forward because you’ve been hating it all this time and where has it gotten you?
I’m going to put that double meaning on that sentence:
I’m going to use my fear of losing it to make me appreciate that fear while it’s here.
Replace “fear” with the word anxiety, replace it with sadness, replace it with anything that you’re dealing with. It doesn’t even mean you have to like it. Like, I appreciate the ability to be sad. I appreciate the ability to be angry. I appreciate the ability to be anxious. I appreciate the ability to be afraid. Because they are actual functions that serve us. All of those things serve us. It’s just that sometimes, I don’t know, our operating system applies them to things that don’t serve us.
Certain anxieties don’t serve us so maybe we need to tweak that operating system. Maybe we need to figure out what’s causing that and drilling into those things and asking ourselves questions like this person did is a great way to do it.
In the next segment, I’m going to address one of the primary points in this email which is making decisions that maybe other people don’t agree with or understand. When you make a decision that is not popular, there’s going to be a lot of resistance which makes the decision harder. There may even be people that don’t want to be in your life anymore, which makes it even harder.
There were a lot of challenges for the person who wrote, and he’s still going through them. And he knows he has to face his challenges every day. He knows he has to wake up and face another day of these challenges, but he continues to do it.
I know there are some people that might think, “Well, why bother? If it’s so challenging why go through it every day? What’s the point?”
The point is different for everyone. Personally, when I was down and out, and I had challenges in my own life, I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to go to work. I didn’t want to deal with people. I didn’t want to deal with life. It took me several months, maybe longer, to get out of that foggy space in my head.
What happens is, we always have depressing thoughts and maybe unhealthy thoughts when our head is foggy. What this person who wrote the email decided to do was not think about the future, not think about the past, and just be in this moment. That’s that Present Moment stuff. That’s hard to do. I know it.
The way I practice that is if I ever need to be in the present moment, I have to go out in nature. I have to stare at the woods or stare at a lake or be with an animal. Animals will definitely keep you present. Even a goldfish.
When we had a goldfish, we don’t have him anymore, he was calming. I paid attention to him. It seems like animals will take our attention and bring us to that present moment. That might be helpful to you. Maybe not. Nature is what I like to do. I like to play my guitar. I play classical guitar and I really love connecting with myself in that moment. And the world just fades away.
I think when you can get into that space where you actually connect with yourself, where nothing else matters, then it can help you through those foggy moments in your head.
I told this story before, but one time I had food poisoning. I ate some bad ham. I got really sick. It was the first time I’d ever gotten that sick. I won’t give you all the details but food poisoning does things to you. Those things were happening to me.
There were things that, let’s just say… it was an explosive time. During that time, I was married and my wife was really trying to help me and be there for me, she was wonderful but I felt so sick that I actually felt like I was going to die. That was the first time I ever felt like I was gonna die and it was amazing what happened as I was getting sicker and sicker.
What happened was as that sickness progressed throughout the night, I finally got to the point where all the worries that I had about the future, and all the stress and emotional triggers that I had about the past didn’t exist.
This is something that can happen when you have to deal with something in the moment, in your face and there’s nothing else you can do except be in that moment. When you have to deal with something in the moment because you had no choice, that’s very “present moment.”
It may be stressful, you may not like it, but that is one way to get in the present moment. That’s why sometimes I say if you’ve got stress, if you’re depressed, if you really can’t stop thinking about the future and you’re worried about the past, go hiking for like 10 miles. Because after mile two or three, depending on how healthy you are, if you’re in good shape or not, you’re going to be like, “Oh, I can’t stand this. My feet hurt. I don’t want to do this anymore.”
Then after mile four or five, you might think this is impossible. As you go through your hike, and this could be also a metaphor for the challenges that you put yourself in life, you’ll find out that those bills that you haven’t paid yet, don’t matter. You’ll also figure out that maybe that breakup you went through doesn’t matter because right now, your legs hurt! Right now, you’re experiencing pain! You’re experiencing fear! “I made five miles, how am I going to make it five miles back?” You will become hyper-focused on yourself.
I’m not saying it’s pleasant, and I’m not saying you should do this. I’m giving you this analogy to help you understand that when you challenge yourself, when you actually face that challenge, when you’re in the middle of it, and you have to put all your attention on it, that the rest of the world seems to slip away. That can be a very present moment for you. That can be very present-minded for you.
When you have to deal with something right here and now, this is when hyperfocus kicks in automatically. And the rest of the world really doesn’t matter because you’re hyper-focused. You have to deal with this now.
Those are the kinds of people that run into burning houses to save someone else. Even their own welfare, it doesn’t matter, because they’re so present with their task at hand. Again, I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t do any of these things, I’m just offering that as a metaphor for life, and what you can do in life.
I also see the person who wrote the email, everything he’s talking about is a great metaphor for life. Of course, he’s actually experiencing this. I’m not trying to minimize that. I’m saying that when we look at this, we can think “I’ve had challenges in my life too.”
I want to get to my main point today which has to do with an unpopular decision that you need to make for yourself. For example, how popular was his decision to become a man? How popular do you think that was?
I don’t know when he did it, but I’m sure it was met with some resistance, especially if he has those “old-timey parents.” I don’t mean to laugh at that but some old-timey people are closed-minded so they may not like change. They may not like somebody else doing what they feel like they need to do for them because it infringes on their belief system, it infringes on their religious values, or whatever.
This is what I was talking about earlier. When somebody is different, can we look at them and say, “Oh, they’re different than me. That’s a good thing! That’s a good thing because they’re doing things that make them more comfortable and make them happy. They’re not doing things to make me happy. That’s not the point of humanity and individuality and autonomy. They’re doing things to make themselves happy. They’re doing things that they need to do for them to create the life they want.”
I am very conscientious of people that have to make a choice that is unpopular. That unpopular choice is going to turn some people off, it’s going to cause a lot of resistance. It’s going to make people say, “You’re bad, you’re wrong, you’re stupid. You need help. You need a psychiatrist. You need a bunch of stuff because what you’re doing isn’t in alignment with my values or beliefs, therefore, you’re wrong.”
When you run into that kind of resistance, you have to remember that resistance comes from their operating system: their beliefs, their values, their aspirations in life, their interpretation of morals and ethics, their interpretation of everything because they were given that operating system.
Can we look at those people and love them and accept them for who they are? Not saying you have to. But can we look at someone like that who has a different operating system who has different values and beliefs and ideals and say, “I accept you for who you are”?
Then the big question, “Can you accept me for who I am?” Because this is probably what this guy had to deal with: “Can you accept me for wanting to be a man instead of me being unhappy as a woman? Can you?”
They may say, “Hell, no, I can’t accept that. I won’t accept that. That’s just wrong.”
This can be with any decision in life. I’m not talking about gender identification today. I’m not talking about sexual orientation today. I’m not talking about any of that. I’m talking about the big decisions that other people don’t want you to do, or are afraid of, or don’t understand. And I’m telling you if you want to break that cycle of what you see as closed-mindedness, in your circles, in your family, with your friends, whoever it is, if you don’t want to see that and you want more people to be accepting and loving and understanding, you might have to be the trendsetter.
You might have to take a step forward and make a decision that’s right for you. You might have to do things that people don’t agree with. I’m especially referring to very personal things. I’m not talking about robbing a bank. I’m not talking about being a serial killer. I’m not talking about that. Those are terrible consequences for everyone. That’s not win-win at all. Those are very lose-lose situations.
I’m talking about situations where you have a personal decision that affects you (and might affect other people in certain ways but really does affect them at all) and you are wondering if you should make it.
Look at some of the emails that I’ve gotten in the past, where somebody says, “I’m afraid to leave my relationship because of what my family will think of me.”
That’s a big challenge! Your whole family will be against you if you leave this relationship with your husband or wife.
How about culturally or religious beliefs? Where somebody wants to marry someone of a different religion, but their family will disown them?
I’m going to be really cold here when I say this, but who cares if your family loves you or not? I know that’s terrible! If it’s your religious belief, I don’t want to infringe on that. If it’s in your family’s tradition, I don’t want to infringe on any of that.
I’m just talking about breaking patterns that might be going on too long, where you don’t get to be yourself. And you define yourself, you!
You are the one who defines you.
You’re the one who takes the steps that changes your life or keeps it the same. You’re the one who has to live with you. The question is, what will you live with? What kind of decisions come up for you, where you’re going to choose to be the same to satisfy everyone else, or change if that’s what your decision might bring you to?
If you change, it might actually make you happier and more comfortable. “Yeah, but I’ll lose my family. I’ll lose my friends!”
Well, you might have to make new friends and might have to make a new family. That is cold. That is heartless. I’m not saying that because I believe it. I’m not saying that you should do this. I’m only saying it because there might need to be an upgrade to that operating system in you that makes it okay to follow your dreams and follow the path that you want to travel. That upgrade may include getting rid of some old programs. Not that you want to. “I don’t want to get rid of my family. If I make this decision that’s going to turn my family against me.”
If that’s the case, I would like to ask how you define family. Because family supports me wanting to be happy. Family supports me wanting to travel a path that works for me.
I’ll never forget when my mom said, “You know, I really miss you. I wish you were here. I wish you live close. But as long as you’re happy, I am.”
My God, when she said that, that was so wonderful to hear because most of the other times I talked with her she was crying a lot because I wasn’t close to her. I was her “favorite son”, she would say, and that’s terrible because I have brothers (or at least one brother under the same mom). Because I was the farthest and she never saw me, I was her “favorite son”.
She was always crying. She always missed me. I’ll never forget, she said her daughter (my sister) told her once, “Why are you so sad that he’s down there and living his life? If he’s happy, aren’t you happy?”
She said, “I never thought of it like that. Yeah, I want him to be happy!”
That question really sunk in for her. And since that day, she has been so happy for me and not sad because I wasn’t there. Of course she still misses me, but she has been happy for me.
I look at that as family. I look at that kind of support as family. “If you’re happy, I’m happy. If you’re doing what you want to do with your life, that makes me happy.” What more could you ask for? That has been sort of my defining line, the standard that I’ve set for family.
Family wants you to live your life and make your own decisions that make you most comfortable and most happy. It’s hard sometimes because if we look at our own family or friends or the people that we’re in relationship with, they’re going to do things that we know are going to be harmful, that we know are going to make them unhappy, but are we going to try to control them so that they don’t do those things?
You might think, well, I’m not trying to control them, I’m trying to help them avoid a bad situation. We could offer our thoughts, “If you get into that situation, this is probably what’s going to happen.”
But are you going to say, “I don’t want to get into that situation because it’s really bad for you.”
You could I guess with kids. But you know what kids do, they rebel. Adults do too. As adults, we don’t want to hear our parent telling us, “I don’t want you doing that so don’t do it. Let me control every aspect of what’s going on in your life. I want you to turn out just like me,” or “I’m not happy with the way I turned out so I’m going to give you a new direction to make sure you turn out better than me.”
With kids is different. You have to raise them. You have to give them guidance. You have to do what you can. They rebel, a lot of them do rebel. So we have to be really careful how much control we exert over them. We just want to make sure that we’re guiding them right with being the right role model.
But everyone else, all the adults in our life, all the friends and family and all those other people, we have to be really careful how much control that we exert in their life and how much we support them so that they feel like they can tell us anything because we support their path without trying to alter their path. Of course, people listen to those who want them to be happy. People listen to those that support them. They are more likely to listen to someone who never tells them what to do and just accepts them for who they are than the person who wants to control them and tells them exactly what they should do and micromanages them, and makes sure that they don’t get on the wrong path all the time. They’re more likely to listen to the person that doesn’t make rules for them.
This is what I’m mentioning in this episode is that we need to make sure that the people that we define as family are in alignment with who we believe should be family. Because as soon as family or anyone… friends, partners in our life turn against us and don’t want us to do something that makes us comfortable or makes us happy. Now we have resistance. Now we feel alone. Now we have a challenge and damn, we better be strong. We better be strong in ourselves because if we don’t get that support, the only support we may have is from ourselves.
We have to move into a stronger place in ourselves which means we can can’t rely on anyone else for that support. We can’t ask for moral support, we can’t ask for a shoulder to cry on because it’s not there. That’s the toughest part is that when there’s no one else there, and you have to do it alone, you might have to reach way inside to get that mental strength and empowerment that you need to be able to get through the big decisions in life.
The good news is no matter what decision you make, I can almost guarantee that somebody else has made that same decision. Thankfully, you can usually find people like that. If you have to make a big decision in life, there are usually people that you can find, thankfully, through the internet that have done that too. With a simple search, you can find a lot of things.
If you can’t, then I want to know about it. I want to know what you can’t find online. If you’re looking for something that you’re going through, and you can’t find somebody else who went through it, I would like to know, because that would be fascinating to me and maybe I can give you a suggestion. Any decision that you make, any behavior that you have, you can probably find someone else who’s gone through it.
We’re not really alone. We’re just not always around the people that we want to support us. The people that we really want to love us and to support us and to just accept who we are and accept our decisions, they may not be there. It’s not really their fault. It’s just that they don’t understand or they’re not ready to open their mind. They have a different operating system that tells them a different set of rules, a different set of values, a different set of beliefs, a different set of ideals, and they just need to follow that because they don’t know anything else. They don’t know any other way to change.
Some people are Macs, some people are Windows, some people are Unix, some people are Linux. Alright, I know I’m coming with some of the audience, but I’m losing the rest so get out of that.
I will say this, as we get to the end of this segment, just remember the final words of this person who wrote the email, which is, “I’m going to work on accepting everything that happens, no matter how painful, without falling back.”
He went on to say a little bit more than that, but I think that’s a good place to end it. In other words, there are things that are going to happen, and there has to be a level of acceptance. Otherwise, you may not be able to get through it. If you can’t accept that it happened, and you just want to resist it or deny it, then you might fall back. You might go back into some bad behavior or some bad relationship or some bad job.
You might be in a bad space. So remember, you have to live with yourself. You have to go to sleep every night with yourself. You are always there, and you will always be there. So how are you going to treat yourself? Especially if nobody else agrees with your decisions and your way of life and your thoughts and your beliefs and your values.
There might be a lot of people that disagree with you. There are a lot of people that disagree with me and a lot of people that agree. But there are 8 billion+ people on the planet so that’s a given.
Just remember that. There are going to be people that disagree with you. And those people may be the closest people in your life. But there are 8 billion people on the planet, which means there are going to be a whole lot of people that agree with you as well.
It just turns out that they’re not the ones you actually wanted to agree with you. They might be people that you haven’t met yet. Often what happens when we decide to go forward with a decision that we know is right for us, then we meet the right people.
Sometimes we’re in the wrong mindset. Sometimes we have the wrong operating system. Sometimes we need to make a change in our life so that we actually meet the right people.
We’ve been around the wrong people, even if they are people that we love for so long, but they just can’t get on board with what we want in our lives. There are people like that.
You just have to remember that you are your decision-maker and you are important. People who love you and care about you will want to see you happy. They will honor you honoring yourself. And when you have people like that in your life, that’s the best of all worlds. I wish that for you.
In conclusion, I’m going to remind you how important it is to take care of yourself. Now, I don’t mean drink a lot of water and eat the right foods, that’s all a given. We hear that all the time. You don’t need to hear that from me.
I’m talking about that person that you go to sleep with every night: You
It reminds me of how sometimes we treat people that we love. If you’re in a romantic relationship, that is the person that you go to sleep with on a nightly basis if you live together. If you live with someone, and you love them, and you support them, and you want them to be happy, and that is the person you go to sleep with every night, why wouldn’t you treat that person as the most special, most important person in the world?
I know I’m not talking to everyone. I know that most of the listeners of this show probably treat their loved ones like they are the most important person in the world. But I’ve received too many letters where somebody lives with someone that treats them like garbage. Why would anyone want to treat someone that they live with that they sleep with every night like garbage? Why would anyone want to make anyone else feel that way?
Again, I’m probably not talking to you. I’m probably talking about other people that don’t listen to this show. But that’s a good reminder to remember that if someone treats you like garbage, it’s important for you to remember how important you are, and how worthy you are, and how you don’t deserve that treatment.
If you feel like you deserve that treatment, then you need to work on yourself. You need to work on your self-esteem and your self-worth because nobody deserves that treatment when they’re working on themselves. Nobody deserves that treatment when they want to do better, when they’re trying. Nobody really deserves that treatment at all but sometimes we think we do. Sometimes we think “I deserve it because I did X.”
It’s like my friend who cheated on his wife, I don’t know, 10-15 years ago, he still beat himself up today for it. Some people who have been cheated on might think, “Yeah, he should! He should continue beating himself up!” But there is a point where you have to stop beating yourself up because you can’t show up as the person you need to be inside you, for you, for others.
There’s a point where you just have to stop. I have articles and episodes on infidelity if you want to read or listen to those. In those resources, I give very specific points and a very specific timeline of when to stop beating yourself up. Because if you truly made a mistake and you regret it, and you know you will never do it again, then you deserve to treat yourself better.
Again, there’s a timeline. It might take up to a year. I believe that when you do regret something that you do have to beat yourself up for a little bit to help you learn the lesson, to help you make sure that you never do it again. But then there’s a point where you move on.
Most things that you’ve done in your history shouldn’t stain you forever. Most things you can move past, you can move beyond, so that you can start living life again, not only because you can start enjoying life again, but because it’s hard to show up as the best version of you for anyone else.
So even if you feel like you should beat yourself up for something that you did, or be down on yourself, you’re not giving what other people deserve: The best version of you.
That does take work. It does take work to work on your self-esteem and your self-worth and self-love and self-compassion and just taking care of yourself. Because you deserve it.
If you think you don’t deserve it, tune into every single episode of The Overwhelmed Brain and make sure that you listen, take notes, and remember how important you are.
You are worthy, you are important, and I appreciate you.
And if you think Paul, you don’t even know me. I think if you’ve gotten this far in this episode, I know you. I think if you’ve gotten this far, you’ve heard everything I’ve had to say. You didn’t shut it off and say “That guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Or maybe you still think that but you’re just listening but if you have gotten through this episode and other episodes, I know you!
I at least know that you’re working on yourself. Because people who don’t work on themselves don’t listen to this stuff. If you’re trying, then you’re going in the right direction. Those are the kind of people I relate to.
You are that kind of person. That makes you important.
What makes you important is that you want to improve yourself. You want to empower yourself, you want to get into a better space so that you can show up as the best version of yourself in whatever crazy world we’re in. Right now, especially, but whatever the world throws at you, you will have that foundation of strength and hopefully the courage to be able to make decisions that are right for you.
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